"I don't think we'll be in a hurry for a long time to sign a civilian contract for another military procurement program," said Hervé Morin today in answer to a question about what lessons the countries procuring the A400M military transport aircraft had learned. At a lunch today with journalists largely dominated by questions about the A400M, Morin added that he had a lot of other answers to the question which he would keep to himself so as not to add any more controversy to the already troubled program.
"I hold out high hopes," he said, that next week during a NATO meeting the European partner countries (France, Germany, Spain, UK, Turkey, Belgium, and Luxembourg) would find a compromise with manufacturer EADS "or at least that's the way France perceives this issue." He added that he had had "staunch support" from Spain which also wants to see this program go ahead.
Morin added that the DGA, France's procurement agency, was well pleased with the engine's latest tests. "They say that the engine is fully satisfactory in the framework of the tests it is currently undergoing," he said.
"This is a really excellent program and everything must be done to keep it afloat. It's the only aircraft of its kind and I am convinced that it has an enormous export potential. It has everything to succeed," he said passionately.
Asked whether the resignation earlier today of Britain defense minister could have a negative effect on the program, Morin said "we must remain as united as possible," and conceded that much depended on the future British defense minister's personal involvement in the project.